Bands sometimes lose band members because of “musical differences”. Most of the time there are some other kind of differences than musical ones that are the cause for someone leaving. In this interview, Ken Hensley is quite frank about the reasons for sacking Gary Thain.
As we know now, Thain unfortunately had a lot of trouble with drugs. Heroin took his life at the age of 27 in December 1975. All in all, a sad story about a young life wasted too early, but when a band have a “non-functioning” member I really don`t think they have much choice. As they say; the show must go on, and in a competitive business like the music business you just don`t have the time to wait for someone to hopefully clean up their act. Tragically, when you cut someone loose from the band, it doesn`t help their survival rate in the long run, but in these situations when you have a lot of people depending on the band (Management, promoters, roadies, truck drivers and so on…), the solution may be brutal but inevitable.
Have an interesting read.
When a man`s gotta put in the boot…
It`s no use calling it anything else. Uriah Heep own up.
By Tony Stewart
The Uriah Heep management seem to have given Gary Thain, the band`s former bassist, what is commonly known as a hefty kick in the groin.
You may recall that a couple of weeks ago it was announced that Thain and Heep had “amicably” parted company, but, rather unexpectedly, the management issued another statement the following week insisting Thain had actually been sacked.
Quite why they should find such a revelation necessary is uncertain, perhaps somebody in the Heep organisation is not so very `umble.
It had been known for some time that all was not well within the Heep camp. Last autumn Thain had a public confrontation with the manager, Gerry Bron, over what Thain claimed was a lack of consideration following a severe electric shock he received on stage in Dallas.
By the time of their British tour in October, all seemed well on the Thain-Bron front, but there was now unrest among the other members of the group. Ken Hensley, their musical director, made it known he was dissatisfied with the band`s musical progress, although David Byron and Mick Box, the singer and guitarist respectively, disagreed.
Another major confrontation seemed imminent.
“That was,” Hensley now says of the article in NME which revealed the situation, “the first of a series of controversial interviews which stirred things up.”
We`re sitting in a pub just round the corner from Nova studios, where Hensley has been putting the final touches to a second solo album, which sounds promising.
“I think at the time we were talking before,” Ken continues, sucking on an eight inch cigar, “I was expressing my own very personal feelings. I felt embittered by the lack of attention paid to the music, and by all the stuff that was going on about business.
“I`d reached a situation where I was so out of my depth when it came to talking about big finance and things, that I was reacting, probably over reacting, against it. But it had also got to the point where it was no good bottling it up any more.
“I felt the business thing was taking too much priority,” he summarises, “and the music was being neglected.”
Ken goes on to say that generally there was a feeling of frustration within the band, caused by the emphasis on business affairs, and by other problems – like Gary Thain.
“We felt for some time,” Hensley states, “we were carrying Gary. He`s a great bass player, nobody would deny that…”
“He`s done the band a tremendous service musically..”
“The inconsistency of the situation was obviously getting everybody uptight. You know, four people doing five people`s job makes it that much more difficult. The unsettled atmosphere and the lack of progress was getting to everyone in a different way.
“I think the situation with Gary was desperately unfortunate because he`s not a strong person physically, and he`s felt the pressure of being on the road a lot more than anybody else. He`s come very close to cracking up at times.
“But we respected his musicianship so much that rather than doing the obvious thing and just giving him the boot and getting somebody else, we nursed the situation along, hoping it would get better.
“When that thing happened in Dallas it was rather more serious than we chose to advertise at the time, and then the subsequent increase in his personal problems just made it impossible for us to protect the situation any more. It just had to come to a head, otherwise I could see us all getting so pissed off that we`d all jack it in.”
But when Thain and Heep parted company, the band wasn`t on the road, so how could this have affected his position in the band?
“The long term effects of heavy touring programmes,” he explains reasonably, “which we had undertaken since Gary had joined, had accumulated. It was the cumulative effect of those tours that was dragging Gary down, to the point where even the simplest things were becoming a big effort for him, and he just couldn`t manage.”
It could be construed that Thain was the scapegoat, and was ousted in the belief it would pacify the feeling of frustration and unease in the band. But I doubt it.
Hensley has proved in the past to be honest, brutally so at times, and there is no reason to doubt him now. And he does mention Thain`s personal problems – “he had a lot on his mind with his girlfriend” – which diverted a lot of his devotion and attention away from the band.
“I sympathise with him 100 per cent, but I think it`s very important we made the move at the time, and I think it will turn out for the best, because I`ve been of the opinion for a long time that the band has needed a new creative catalyst, and an injection of new blood to help us find a freshness.”
He also feels the overall Heep situation has now been resolved by openly discussing problematic areas and coming to a few new conclusions.
“The result is everybody is co-operating much more closely than ever before on the new Uriah Heep album we`ve been recording.”
A certain disenchantment remains in the band though, because they`ve had to postpone work on their new set until a bass player is found, which should be sometime at the beginning of this month.
“Now,” says Ken, “we`re all pretty pissed off with the fact we`re hanging around and virtually doing nothing. But I`m sure we`ll all forget it quite quickly if we find the right guy.”
Ah yes, the lemonade touch to what was a pint of bitter, you could analogise. But don`t they regret what has happened with Gary Thain?
“No, in actual fact it`s quite the reverse,” responds Hensley unhesitantly. “Obviously we were very disappointed when we had to finally part company with Gary, because nobody wants to break up a winning combination, which is what our record sales and our concerts were proving we were, even though some of the criticism was adverse.
“But on the re-bound we now have an atmosphere of optimism. I`m trying to make it sound not too sadistic, but out of this bad situation we all feel something good`s going to come. So we`re considerably encouraged by the fact everybody`s taken it on the chin, and we`re as determined, as we`ve always been, to prove we can go on to greater things.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Labelle, Chaka Khan, Chuck Berry, Lou Reed, John Lennon, Jack The Lad, Richard Thompson and Linda, Elton John.
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